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VOL. 44 | NO. 8 | Friday, February 21, 2020

Panel vacancy delays action on Tennessee Confederate bust

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee panel won't vote on whether to remove or add context to a bust of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader in the Capitol until a board vacancy is filled, the board's chairman said at a meeting Thursday.

Finance Commissioner and Capitol Commission Chairman Stuart McWhorter said he's unsure when Gov. Bill Lee will replace Tyreece Miller, who recently left the commission as the nominee for U.S. marshal in western Tennessee. McWhorter said he doesn't want to act on Nathan Bedford Forrest's bust before Miller is replaced.

The Tennessee Heritage Protection Act also requires the state Historical Commission's approval to remove the bust.

McWhorter also floated the possibility of getting the attorney general's opinion on whether lawmakers need to vote on the issue.

Forrest amassed a fortune before the Civil War as a plantation owner and slave trader in Memphis. After the war, he was a leader of the Klan, which terrorized black people as it sought to reverse Reconstruction efforts and restore white supremacy.

The bust was unveiled in 1978. Some propose adding historical context. Others suggest moving it to the state museum.

Republican Rep. Sabi Kumar on Thursday discussed possibly installing a monument of a civil rights hero nearby.

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